Pot case has lawyers spewing insults | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Pot case has lawyers spewing insults

A judge being figuratively fired, attorneys spitting venom at each other outside the courtroom, discussions about “shake” and “bud,” a dread-locked man in shackles.

The preliminary hearing for Matthew Scott Macosko, who carries a medical marijuana recommendation, lasted nearly three hours after defense attorney J. David Nick asked for a different judge. Macosko is accused of possessing 11 ounces of marijuana for sale.

His attorney said he had a bad feeling about retired Judge Terrance Finney.

“After doing this for years, you just read the tea leaves,” said Nick, an attorney based in San Francisco, about sizing up Finney and wanting another judge Friday in El Dorado County Superior Court.

After sending most of his afternoon calender upstairs to Finney, Judge Jerald Lasarow listened to testimony from a pair of South Lake Tahoe police officers and a marijuana expert before halting the hearing and continuing it to Nov. 12 at 10 a.m.

Macosko faces up to four years in state prison for the possession of sale charge.

Deputy District Attorney Mike Atwell called officers Robert Refer and Chuck Owens to testify about the warrant arrest and the finding of marijuana, paraphernalia, three medical marijuana certificates, a suspected payroll sheet and nearly $1,500 in Macosko’s home, a converted school bus painted blue.

Macosko told officers they could search his vehicle because he holds medical marijuana recommendations. The recommendation is for severe anxiety disorder stemming from childhood abuse, Macosko said in an earlier jailhouse interview.

On Oct. 16, during the regular 5 a.m. briefing, South Lake Tahoe patrol officers learned of a misdemeanor warrant for Macosko just released by the district attorney’s office. The warrant regarded a false address given to authorities in Gardnerville on Macosko’s Nevada driver’s license.

Macosko, a genial 30-year-old eager to talk about marijuana, said he uses his friend’s residence in the 700 block of Tillman to take showers. South Lake Tahoe authorities said the residence, as stated on the license, doesn’t exist. Macosko’s attorney said the address was a misprint; the residence is in the 900 block of Tillman.

Details from Refer brought snickers from Macosko’s supporters because his name is pronounced the same as a slang term for marijuana. Refer told the court that on Oct. 16 about 3 p.m. he circled around the bus parked on Lodi Avenue.

Refer said he noticed a strong odor of marijuana emitting from the bus. Officer Chuck Owens arrived to assist with a search of the 30-foot-long vehicle.

Midway through Refer’s testimony he asked to check his report regarding a witness statement. Hearing that, Nick threw up his arms, exclaiming he didn’t have the report. Nor did Atwell. A 10-minute recess was called so the report could be copied.

During the break, Nick accused Atwell of having and hiding the report, used a profanity and walked out of the courtroom. Atwell stormed after him.

“Look, you loudmouth” I didn’t have the report, Atwell said.

The two exchanged heated words before deputies of the court split the two. Tempers cooled and court resumed.

Refer said the witness saw cars pulling up to the bus and driving away after Macosko allegedly provided them with unidentifiable material in plastic baggies.

During cross-examination, Nick peppered Refer with questions about whether he answered Macosko’s cell phone, baiting callers by impersonating Macosko so they would come and buy marijuana. Refer denied the accusation.

For his only witness of the day, Nick called Christopher Conrad, author of two books on hemp and an accepted court expert on medical marijuana. Conrad disputed the marijuana being for sale and said it is a legitimate amount for medical use.

After the preliminary hearing, Lasarow reduced Macosko’s bail from $100,000 to $35,000. The day after the continued preliminary hearing, Macosko’s trial of furnishing marijuana to minors will begin. A separate matter involving marijuana being mailed to Kentucky will follow.

Macosko faces up to seven years in prison for the furnishing to minors charge.

— Contact William Ferchland at wferchland@tahoedailytribune.com.

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